‘Tis the Season…

…to be forced into buying crappy gifts for people just to fulfill an obligation. Fa la la la la la la la.

Before you get your Santa suit in a twist, let me say, I love giving someone a gift I know they will enjoy and appreciate. What I hate is spending time and money to buy something…anything…for an acquaintance, even though they will probably hate it, because it is part of a “fun” gift exchange or because they are getting me something so now I have to get them something, only to be filled with the satisfaction and joy that their inevitable look of poorly stifled disappointment brings:

Credit: fusepilates.com

Credit: fusepilates.com

That just warms your heart.

My gut reaction to that look is, “Okay, fuck you then. You get nothing!” Although, I don’t entirely blame them. They are trying. It is just very, very difficult to pull off the perfect ‘I don’t like this at all but I am going to look so genuinely excited and grateful that you can’t tell’ face. You have to be quick on your feet – if you show even a flash of disappointment before painting on a smile, it’s over. But, in your rush to show excitement and appreciation, be careful not to overdo it – that is also an immediate tell. Your level of excitement must be proportionate to the gift. If someone buys you an ugly pair of Christmas socks, you can’t use excitement to cover up your true feelings. Saying, “Yes, socks! I can’t believe it, I love love love these, OMG this is amazing! I have to Instagram these right now,” could only be perceived as sarcasm.

Yes, there is a lot of thought and skill that goes into pulling off the perfect fake response. I myself can’t do it. I fight a constant battle between not wanting to be rude and not wanting to lie, and this internal conflict manifests in my face. The attempted smile is always pulled back by the ‘Yeah, I don’t want this crap’ face and it ends up looking like this:

Photo credit: amorsthoughts.wordpress.com

Photo credit: amorsthoughts.wordpress.com

How about, instead of buying each other shit we don’t want… we do nothing! Let’s just exchange season’s greetings and call it a day. How about you take the money you were going to spend on me, and buy something you actually want, and I’ll take my money, and buy what I want, which I’ve actually been doing all year, because I am self-sufficient and don’t depend on casual acquaintances to buy me things.

Some might argue that a gift card is a way around the gift exchange dilemma. But at that point, why bother? A gift card is almost like giving someone cash, but with the caveat that they can only spend it where you say so. So it is actually worse than giving someone cash because at best, you’ve exchanged bills out of your wallet, and at worst, you’ve exchanged those bills for a plastic card that you can’t use.

A friend of mine was forced into a gift exchange at work, specifically a gift card exchange.Ā  I consider this to be the height of stupid. They are literally going to stand in a circle and trade $25. Why is that fun? “You’ll never guess what I got at work today – after paying $25, I got $25 back!” You don’t even get to unwrap it, and we all know that is half the fun of presents. I did a lot of online shopping for myself last week and I’m very seriously considering wrapping that stuff up just to open it Christmas morning. Maybe taking this gamble with a gift card exchange is fun in the way that Russian Roulette is fun, but instead of not getting shot in the head, your rush of adrenaline comes from not getting the Olive Garden gift card.

Photo credit: knowyourmeme.com

Photo credit: knowyourmeme.com


35 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season…

  1. I’ve been working on my genuinely surprised and delighted look that I’ll need on those occasions when I’m not genuinely surprised or delighted. So far I’ve got it down to “Whoa! This is awesome- you know, you always pick such original gifts- nobody else thinks to get this stuff for me. Thanks so much!” šŸ™‚ Another plus? Dirty Santa party- covered.

  2. Pingback: Nineteen Days More Days, But Who Is Counting? | A Weary Mind

  3. The Mister and I decided not to exchange gifts with anyone. The money we save is going towards a trip south, where we will send postcards to everyone we did not give a gift to. However, we’ll will not tease them with “wish you were here” because some of our relatives would take that as an invitation.

    Did you know the only comments on this stream are your replies to comments? The original comments don’t show up. But maybe that’s on purpose?

    • I did not know that thank you for telling me! I like your plan to exchange gifts for travel, I’d much rather have a great trip than a bunch of ‘things’ I don’t need. I also live how literally your relatives take ‘wish you were here’ postcards haha

  4. I hate our gift exchanges at work. Our division is half old people and half young people. The young crowd likes to do gag gifts, and then the old people get pissed off when they get a funny gift instead of something “good” or useful.

  5. Holy crap, a gift card exchange. That may be the most ridiculous holiday idea ever. It’s at least in the top 10. And what about the poor schmo who gets the Applebee’s card?

  6. Soooo with you on this.
    A newspaper article said the average spent on kids for Christmas is Ā£210 each!?!? Oh. My. God!!!!!

  7. LOL! The gift card exchange has to be the dumbest thing I have heard yet. Sounds like some stupic politically correct thing some HR drone came up with for the office. Ugh. I hate holiday shopping.

  8. OH my gosh: “They are literally going to stand in a circle and trade $25.” Hilarious. I’m just laughing picturing people standing around and all passing $25 to the right. Also, you nailed it with the Michael Scott gif.

    I propose that we should all get to open gifts in private. Even when I actually do like something, I’m always worried that my reaction is appropriate or thankful enough. There should be a “present-opening room” that everyone goes in one at a time, opens their gifts, then comes out and says, “Thanks everybody!” The end.

  9. I love Christmas and I also hate the office party gift exchange. Dumbest invention in history right after the snuggie. Yes, wrap everything you bought yourself and put it under the tree. If you’re anything like me, any purchase made more than 3 days will be completely forgotten, so it really will be a genuine surprise on Christmas morning – hooray!

  10. This reminds me of a “Secret Santa” my World History teacher in high school made us do. The girl who I was given said “whatever” on her sheet so I got her some mini Bath & Body Works sampler thing and she barely even smirked when she opened it. Don’t write “whatever” and then be pissed off at what you were given. Ever since then I have avoided that sort of thing… unless I’m organizing it myself šŸ˜‰

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